Affordable Housing-An Avenue for Addressing Poverty, Drug Addiction, Domestic Violence, and Jobs, with Implications in Education

1) Home ownership is a leading factor in someone escaping poverty.

In addition to providing equity and credit score points which are essential to secure loans, it provides an inheritance. Descendants can have a rent-free place to live, rent out the home for extra income, or sell the property and use the money to chase their own dreams.

My friend Chris is in the process of selling his deceased mother’s home so he can move to the beach and work his dream job in sports reporting.

The Care Effect - New Hope Publishers There is a stark correlation between hope ownership and upward mobility.

2) Not only is the price to buy a home through the roof now, rents are astronomical. People experiencing housing insecurity do not have much opportunity. IF they can find a place to rent, they can’t save for a down payment on a home, and definitely can’t compete with the ultra-wealthy.

To some degree, in time, the housing market will settle as the richest decide where they want to live, and the process of rehoming trickles down to the less wealthy. Then they can pick what’s left. However, if the richest decide to move again, the housing market will simply be the rich trading homes while the rest remain stuck.

My friend Terra worked all summer to save for a rental deposit. However, the available rentals would take all her monthly income. How would she pay for food and transportation?

Shawn and Brittney had consistent employment, strong credit history, and significant savings. However, their realtor took 4 months to find them a place they could even consider (not counting the buying process after they expressed interest). Currently in WNC, 75-80% if real estate sales are to people outside the area, and 20% are cash transactions. How are locals to compete?

3) We need more trained, skilled, certified workers in construction careers: plumbers, carpenters, HVAC, electricians, and landscapers.

My brother applied to NC State’s landscape architecture program, but despite having made only one B in his life (Calculus II independent study), he was rejected. So, he went to community college. However, the licensing boards would not accept his degree. He had to work for many years for another company before his application to the certification board was accepted. Then, he had to prove to them beyond any doubt that he could do the job. When they could no long find any reason to reject him, he was licensed. While we need to make sure people know what they’re doing, there have to be more options and streamlined processes so people can get certifications faster.

Community Colleges need to be allowed to offer degree programs that certification boards will accept. High Schools need to have construction clubs/programs similar to the HOSA program for medical fields. High Schoolers need opportunities for summer construction internships that can help them get credentialed faster. Cameron did this very thing while at Swain, but he's not getting credit for these classes and experiences. It adds to his portfolio and resume, but it does not help him get credentialed faster.

4) Relatedly, schools are facing infrastructure challenges.

High schoolers can help rebuild their schools. Of course, you have to have contractors and professionals, but students can be some of the unskilled labor. In so doing, they are on their way to becoming skilled laborers.

Smoky Mountain High School’s FFA group built their own greenhouse.

Also, regarding the “Devious Licks” TikTok challenge, if students are building their schools, they’re less likely to vandalize their schools, which saves money for the schools.

5) As more people enter construction fields and start their own businesses,

houses can be built faster which increases supply, meets demand, and reduces cost (competition).

6) Additionally, tax incentives can be granted for entities who provide low rent housing.

Land owners who are in debt could lease land to governments who would build rental houses on the property. The land owner could be excused from property tax and have income to pay off their debt.

Opportunity Appalachia Technical Assistance grants are being distributed to convert old buildings into functional spaces. These grants involve public and private entities working in partnership. Fund help preserve a location's history, provide jobs, and bring income from the property once renovated. The Camp Grier Lodging Project in Old Fort will provide commercial space, long-term and short-term rental space, and trail access.

7) Part of straps the state for cash is having to spend so much on public safety. When I visit the jails, most of the ladies in there are repeat offenders. Even if they want to change course, they have difficulty accessing resources. They’ve burned their bridges (what few messed up one’s they even had), and the only people who will help them are into drugs. There needs to be a clear pathway for change for the change to be viable.

a) Some of the ladies have been in jail over a year awaiting trial. If they're going to be there that long, let's make use of the time with educational and recovery resources.

b) Let's invest in transitional housing so they have a place to go when they get out.

c) Let's have a 24-hour window after release. They can stay at the jail for up to 24-hours after release to find a safe place to go.

d) Partner with County Transit to take them where they need to go.

8) These ideas take money, but they’re investments.

With more home ownership, more affordable rentals, and more people working in construction, poverty rates decrease while standard of living increases. People make more money which adds to the tax revenue. When poverty goes down, crime rates go down (less drug use, less domestic violence, less vandalism, less burglary). With public safety costs decreasing, more money is available for positive programs and services which leads to spiraling up rather than spiraling down.

9) In addressing housing issues, we address

unemployment, education, poverty, domestic violence, and drug abuse, too.